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Guide to the Ricardo Cruz/Catolicos por La Raza papers CEMA 28
CEMA 28  
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Collection Details
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  • Acquisition Information
  • Access Restrictions
  • Use Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Series Descriptions

  • Title: Ricardo Cruz/Catolicos por La Raza papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 28
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 13.2 linear feet (18 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1967-1993
    Abstract: Ricardo Cruz (1943 - 1993) was a Chicano rights attorney during the Chicano Movement era. He is most well-known for his advocacy on behalf of the Latino poor people of the Los Angeles area. Cruz was a law school student at the time he founded the controversial organization known as Catolicos por la Raza. Through this organization, he led demonstrations against the Catholic Church for its neglect of the Latino community. His collection takes up 13.2 linear feet and is housed in 18 boxes, containing correspondence files, legal documents, transcripts, photographs, news clippings and ephemera. The preponderance of the Ricardo Cruz Papers, 11 boxes, the Legal Files series, represent his legal cases as a Los Angeles attorney. In this series is found copious information that sheds light on the forced sterilization of Latinas in Los Angeles during that period, and other legal issues.
    Physical Location: del Norte CEMA stacks
    Language of Materials: The collection is in English.
    creator: Cruz, Ricardo

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Camilo Cruz on November 12, 1998

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Use Restrictions

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Ricardo Cruz/Catolicos por La Raza papers, CEMA 28. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.


    Ricardo Cruz was a Chicano rights attorney during the Chicano Movement era. He is most well-known for his advocacy on behalf of the Latino poor people of the Los Angeles area. Cruz was a law school student at the time he founded the controversial organization known as Catolicos por la Raza. Through this organization, he led demonstrations against the Catholic Church for its neglect of the Latino community. He is also know for his successful legal battle against Los Angeles County’s forced sterilization of undocumented workers, and for his successful defense of a young Latino wrongly convicted of murder.
    Cruz was born in 1943 and raised in Los Angeles. After graduating from California State University-Los Angeles in 1967, Cruz attended Loyola Marymount University School of Law. While a law intern with the California Rural Legal Assistance in Santa Barbara, Cruz helped to organize farm workers in Salinas.
    Cruz received the Juris-Doctor degree from Loyola Marymount School of Law in 1971. His attempts to practice law, however, were short-circuited by the California State Bar’s refusal to certify him. The State Bar claimed that his "moral corruption," in disrupting a religious sermon, was inappropriate. With the support from The American Civil Liberties Union and others, Cruz was eventually admitted to the Bar.
    Later, in 1982, Cruz fought and won the dismissal of charges against a young Latino named Gordon Castillo Hall, an adolescent who was falsely convicted for the murder of a Duarte postman who was shot in 1978. Cruz died in 1993, following an unsuccessful battle with lung cancer.

    Series Descriptions

    Personal/Biographical Series. This series, limited to one box, consists of eleven folders that represent a time span from 1972 to1993. Included here are Cruz' writings consisting largely of undated essays, poetry and ruminations. Among the selections are "Chicanos in Mexico", and "An Ode to Chicanos/Chicanas." General correspondence covers 1967-1982, made up of personal and official correspondence, including letters from then-Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. on the appointment of Cruz Reynoso to the California Supreme Court. His 1976 interview on "Chicanos, Catholicism, and Political Ideology" gives insights into his personal history, his founding of Católicos por la Raza, and his philosophy on the Chicano Movement. In this series is a file that evidences his brief affiliation with the Los Angeles office of the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Also here, in the obituaries and memorial tributes, are news clippings detailing his personal history, his achievements, and commitment to social justice. Tributes from municipalities and government bodies are included here. There is an assortment of photographs of Cruz in social and family settings. Folder 12 contains his various resumes but also includes a court application to become a juvenile court attorney, and in this he provides a summary of his court cases and qualifications.
    Rosa Martínez Cruz Series. Martínez Cruz was Ricardo Cruz’ first wife and their overlapping interests led them to work together on some common Chicano Movement issues and projects. This series is made up of two boxes. Martínez Cruz' Socialist ideological convictions are manifested in her involvement with the Comisión Sin Fronteras and CASA/Hermandad General de Trabajadores, whose internal bulletins are found here. She was on the staff of El Foro del Pueblo and Sin Fronteras and contributed her views to each through published articles. Sin Fronteras was the political and theoretical organ of the Comisión Sin Fronteras and had a key role in promulgating the ideology of this Leninist-based organization that was dedicated to liberation struggle on behalf of the Mexican people in the U.S. Significant Leninist polemical treatises in this series include Fan the Flames: A Revolutionary Position on the National Chicano Question.
    Political Activity Series. There are two divisions represented here, one of which consists of Cruz' involvement with law student organizations and the other made up of materials on his involvement with Católicos por la Raza. The latter includes news releases detailing activities directed against the Catholic Church, Católicos por la Raza meeting agendas, correspondence and news clippings spanning a relatively brief but significant period of winter 1969 through April 1970. The focus of this series is to document Católicos por la Raza’s activities leading to and following the demonstration at St. Basil's Cathedral in Los Angeles.
    Legal Files Series. This series contains the most extensive portion of the collection and is housed in ten boxes. It represents Cruz' work as an attorney on legal cases, spanning the years 1972 to 1985. Included here is the very significant, successful legal challenge against Los Angeles County for the forced sterilization of undocumented patients at the County-USC Medical Center. Also in this series are several cases in which Cruz is the defendant, including his involvement in Católicos por la Raza's demonstration at St. Basil's Cathedral in Los Angeles. His hearings before the State Bar's Committee of Bar Examiners, concerning his certification to practice law, are found here.
    Subject Files Series. This series is housed in one box and folders 5-6 are especially insightful in their coverage of the Chicano Moratorium and the death of Ruben Salazar at the hands of Los Angeles County Sherriff's deputies. Folder 3 is a file related to the work of the East Los Angeles-based Committee to Stop Home Destruction and consists of a study aiming to counteract the displacement of Latinos in East Los Angeles communities as a result of urban renewal practices.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Los Angeles (Calif.)--Trials, litigation, etc
    Mexican Americans--California--Los Angeles--Politics and government--20th century
    Mexican Americans--Civil rights--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century
    Mexican Americans--Economic conditions
    Mexican Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century
    Mexican Americans--Politics and government
    Mexican Americans--Social conditions
    Political activists--Legal status, laws, etc.--California--Los Angeles--History--20th century